Archive for the ‘The Political Wing’ Category

Posters, Posters, Posters – everywhere!

February 13, 2016 2 comments

Did you wake up one day earlier this month, open your curtains and be confronted by a general election candidate staring in your window? Okay, not an actual candidate but maybe a poster of them hanging off a lamppost outside your house? The answer for many is yes.

Go outside your door since last week and it is a sea of posters that confronts you. Posters, Posters, Posters. Everywhere. Most people hate them but for this political anorak they are a wonder!


Election Called

Being part of a political family means I’ve been involved in a fair few election campaigns and poster battles. As Enda stood up in the Dáil to tell us the other week he was off to meet Michael D in the Park, I got a text from my Mum saying “Election called, your country needs you”! Since I was on holidays I wasn’t able to answer this initial Ireland’s call and for the first time since 2002, I wasn’t up a lamppost on the day the election was called.








Arriving back into Dublin later in the week, I was like a kid venturing out into freshly fallen snow, looking in wonder at the election posters on the lampposts as I came from the airport in Dublin Bay North, into Dublin Central and into Dublin South Central. I tried to take in the picture perfect poster blitz on the journey!


From cardboard to corriboard

I’m old enough to remember the old school election poster which was printed on stiff cardboard, generally with just the names of the candidates for that party. A heavy spell of rain and these would soon be on the ground.


Nowadays the posters are printed on corriboard and cost around €6 a pop. In a previous election one party had the corrugations vertical and with a heavy gust of wind they would concertina dropping to the ground. Stability is the key for the election poster and horizontal is more stable! The name and address of both the printer and publisher of the poster must be visible – usually in the smallest of fonts!


They are printed with holes pre-punched top, bottom and middle on large posters to allow cable ties to be strung through to fix to lampposts. I favour a back-to-back poster arrangement but some candidates have posters with writing on the back with their party name or candidate name.


Candidates typically will put up maybe up to 1,000 large posters and maybe a couple of hundred smaller posters later in the campaign – often diamond shaped posters – hence the larger number up on the lampposts at present and the race to get them in good positions once the election is called as space is limited.


The rules

The relevant local authority polices the posters during the election. They shouldn’t go up before the election is called, although a number of candidates jump the gun at every election including #ge16. Rules stipulate that they cannot be erected on traffic lights, bridge parapets, and on poles with traffic signs. They should be placed more than 2.5m above ground. There is also no canvassing within 50m of any polling station on polling day so having a poster up directly outside can often break this rule. If you go for a quick walk around your area, you will probably see each of these rules broken multiple times!


If posters were to be done away with the advertisers would likely welcome it, as candidates would likely end up taking out expensive billboard and newspaper adverts. Maybe people would go with some USA style small posters on their lawn rather than on lampposts.



Do posters work?

On the canvass there is a marked difference in reaction from the voter when an ordinary canvasser calls to the door and when the candidate does. The voter will often snap to attention as a candidate seemingly descends off the lamppost, to stride up and stand on their doorstep asking for a vote on election day.


If the election goes well, candidates can get elected on the first count but the majority under our single transferrable vote system of proportional representation get elected from transfers. Those number 2s, 3s, 4,s etc are vitally important.


Since 1999, the Irish ballot paper has photographs of each candidate with party logos added following the publication of the Electoral Amendment Act (2000).


The changing constituency boundaries also mean that posters give voters a good idea of who is running in their area. So basically each candidate is essentially marking their territory on lampposts!


Having branded your constituency with posters for weeks, candidates are hoping that it will help the voter to pick them out of a very busy ballot paper and help get them over the quota in the later counts.





Post-election poster removal

When election day is over the posters need to come down within seven days. There was one campaign I was involved in where some of our posters were removed by persons unknown ahead of polling day, only to magically re-appear more than a week after the election with some €150 fines to follow :(.


Losing candidates can’t take their posters down quick enough while some victorious candidates will affix a “Thanks” sign on their posters!


Certainly the winning candidates are more likely to leave their posters up as long as possible basking in the glory of a successful election campaign!


No man’s land

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve taken to cycling home along the Liffey this week to see if I can spot the man living in the Liffey. I haven’t spotted Fergal McCarthy yet but his island with his tent and two trees is still floating in the Liffey as part of Dublin’s fringe festival. If you haven’t seen it yet get down to have a look before it floats away on Sunday 25th.

For more see here:

Docklands developments – of sorts

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

A couple of interesting sights in the Dublin Docklands last week.

On the south docklands for the last week or so, a timber creation was being developed in Grand Canal Dock. The strange construction turns out to be a desert island being constructed as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival. Seems like Dublin will have a new one bedroom apartment except this time it will be a floating island with its creator Fergal McCarthy living on it during the festival.

“After the huge success of last year’s LiffeyTown, artist Fergal McCarthy returns with a new art installation in 2011. A desert island will appear overnight in the midst of the Liffey. ” More details are available on the festival’s website ( and Fergal McCarthy’s blog.

The two island halves being brought through Grand Canal Dock

Liffeytown (2010 Fringe Fest)

Meanwhile in the north Docklands, it wasn’t ‘crane watch’ but ‘piling rig watch’ last week as the site behind the Namaland Anglo building had a couple of piling rigs working away. What construction project was starting in the north Docklands site? Were our flailing construction and property businesses getting a timely boost? Well not quite. It isn’t a high spec office, hotel or housing development but the pumping station for the area behind the convention centre beginning construction.

View from Upper Mayor Street

No cranes remain

Macdara Ferris: “‘And when the Celtic Tiger saw the breadth of her collapse, she wept, for there were no more cranes to see.’ Benefits of being a Die Hard fan.”

This week saw the removal of the last crane in the Docklands. The south quay site off Green Street, where State Street occupies one quarter of the site, had its crane removed during the week.

The view from northside looking to the south quay with three cranes (May 2011)

View from Grand Canal Dock with State Street foreground, Nama/Carroll's/Anglo Building in background and no cranes to be seen (July 2011)

Hans Gruber: “‘And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.’ Benefits of a classical education.”

Crane Watch

Crane Update:

No cranes left on the northside

The last cranes left in the docklands sit south of the liffey above unfinished basement off Green Street

The last cranes left in the docklands sit south of the liffey above unfinished basement off Green Street

Categories: The Political Wing Tags: , ,

Dude, where’s my crane?

Sitting at my desk I have a good view of a few of the Celtic Tiger developments. Looking over my left shoulder I can see Lansdowne Road Stadium (aka The Aviva, The Palindrome or The Dublin Arena for next week’s Europa League final). Over the top of my screen, I have Alto Vetro, the top of the Grand Canal Theatre and can make out the top of the Samuel Beckett Bridge.

Samuel Beckett Bridge

On my right are my own personal weather vanes with the abandoned cranes over some of the unfinished Docklands developments. As the cranes are left swing free in the wind, they let me know which way the wind and hence the weather is coming.

Back at my desk today, I noticed a bit of movement to my right and a new temporary crane was popping over the adjoining building. This was at work dismantling one of the cranes on the infamous Liam Carroll development on the north of the Liffey. This had been ear marked to be the brand new headquarters for Anglo Irish Bank. But somewhere between bankrupting the country and forcing us to lose our economic sovereignty, Anglo never made it there. Carroll’s companies lie in Nama and the Anglo building lies derelict surrounded by abandoned cranes. Well by tomorrow it looks like the cranes will be gone, maybe the receiver got a good price for them – let us hope so.

View from East Link Bridge towards IFSC

Temporary mobile crane in foreground

Two workers climb up to help dismantle final crane

Crane ballast being lifted off (1of3)

Crane ballast being lifted off (2 of 3)

Crane ballast being lifted off (3 of 3)

Vote for the Wedding Party

Last Friday was certainly an historic occasion. There has been lots of talk about this particular institution being done away with. People complain that it is too elite, it’s an anachronism and it should be a made thing of the past. There was a fair amount of media coverage on the day that saw upper and lower houses coming together. Just to clear up though, I’m not talking about the Royal Wedding in Britain that seemed to cause much discussion and excitement here in Ireland. I am, of course, talking about the election of the Upper House of the Oireachtas, Seanad Éireann.

I took more interest in this Seanad election than ones in the past. It was probably due to it being possibly the last ever Seanad election. Maybe having been involved in the lower house Dáil election, I wanted to keep an eye on the completion of houses of the Oireachtas. Having said all that, I really only confined my participation in the run up to the senate election day to casting my NUI ballot, encouraging anyone with a vote to use it and a very small amount of tweeting in support of a couple of candidates. Indeed, I was one of those people I usually grumble about who come out of the woodwork towards the end of a campaign when things are going well and then rock up to the count to join in the celebration!

The elitist element of the Seanad becomes clear when you look at who votes in the election. After last week’s election the Seanad awaits the appointment of the final eleven senators who will be nominated by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Just over 97,000 NUI graduates are eligible to vote and they elect three senators (but only 33,831 actually voted in this campaign). Meanwhile, on the Dublin University or Trinity College Dublin panel, 58,000 graduates elect three senators (but this time only 16,000 returned a ballot). Meanwhile, 1048 elected representatives elect the remaining 43 senators across five vocational panels. So it’s the 166 TDs, the 43 outgoing Senators who aren’t TDs and 883 County and City Councillors who well enfranchised in this election.

The Seanad election website ( was a great way to keep up to date with the count which began on Tuesday. Twitter also came into its own with the official Oireachtas twitter feed (@OireachtasNews), NUI Lecturer Adrian Kavanagh (@AdrianKavanagh) and Labour Councillor Emer Costello (@emercostello) providing invaluable service on news from the vocational panels to the election junkies like myself. The press coverage was surprisingly poor in my opinion from the media including RTÉ as the week went on but maybe they were distracted by events over in London.

News from the university panels meanwhile was much slower. While there were early tallies on Wednesday lunchtime from the NUI count in the RDS, by early evening there was still no news from Trinity College. Having been involved in canvassing in the recent general election in Dún Laoghaire, I had an interest in seeing if Ivana Bacik (@Ivanabacik) could get elected to the Houses of the Oireachtas having missed out on being elected to the Oireachtas in the recent Dáil election by a mere 147 votes. With the count being on my way home, I wandered into the count centre in Trinity’s Exam Hall that evening. This is a very versatile venue which accommodates exams, book sales and hosting the Trinity Orchestra doing Daft Punk judging by the video the went viral on Wednesday. It is also a much nicer venue than the count centre I’m used to in Loughlinstown from the council and Dáil elections!

Once the election count bug gets you, it is hard to get rid of it. It is always good to be involved and I always prefer to have some numbers to hand to crunchat such an occasion. So no sooner had I entered the count centre, I was handed a clipboard and away I was tallying again. I will be diplomatic and say I’ve seen more organised counts elsewhere. Each counter had a letter opener to open the sealed ballots that they then had to try and place on the two tables they had in front of them. A third table for each counting team would have gone a long way. With 20 candidates they was just about enough space to get the opened ballot paper on the tables. For a Dáil or Council election, it is hard to gauge the overall result when tallying as each box is from a designated location meaning some candidates may very strong in certain boxes and weak elsewhere. With the Seanad votes being postal votes, it is a good sample and so when you begin to tally it doesn’t take long to get an overall picture. In this case it is clear that the incumbent senators are doing well with David Norris out front followed by Ivana Bacik. The third senator from the last election, Shane Ross, was of course elected to the Dáil but Tony Williams was running third in the tally having been backed by Ross during the campaign. Its then broadcaster Marc Coleman and TCD lecturer Sean Barrett coming next.

A couple of TCD votes that were posted to the NUI in error are sent over to the Trinity Count but are deemed ineligible. A few Trinity votes head in the opposite direction. It is a bit worrying when Irish graduates can’t work out where to send a letter too. More worryingly is the small number of spoilt votes on the vocational panel election. The comment is made that its poor when our elected representatives can’t manage to fill out a ballot paper correctly. I happened to be at the tally laptop when the Irish Times look for some tallies. I give them an update and then head off to watch the Champions League final second leg. Elections are important but El Classico is more so!

I return after the Lionel Messi show in time to see David Norris elected at the conclusion of the first count and the count is suspended for the evening. We retire to Kehoe’s for some refreshments but there is more work to be done as I’m kindly given a tutorial on how the vocational panel election is run by @Sinchurl. Each of the five vocational panels elects an odd number of senators. For example the Labour Panel has eleven seats. Five of those seats will be filled from the inside panel (people who are nominated by the political parties) and five on the outside panel with a further seat available for the next highest vote after the ten positions have been filled. So what organisations can nominate candidates for the outside panel? Well a selection include The Institution of Engineers of Ireland, the RDS, the Irish Dental Association, the Institute of Irish Bankers, The Drama League of Ireland and the Irish Grain and Feed Association.

The inside/outside panel arrangement does mean that somebody can get elected as being the last man/women standing on one side of the panel even if they have less votes than somebody on the other side of the panel (this is how Mary Fitzpatrick manages to lose out to Denis Landy in the Administration panel). As this election method becomes clear to me, I rue the fact that this will all be useless information to retain if the Seanad is done away with. Many will feel its useless information anyway!

The administration panel is a tough one to follow via Twitter on Friday as all the #SE11 Seanad tweets are buried in my timeline by the royal wedding. Indeed one of the tweeters I met at the count on Wednesday is no longer giving Seanad tweets by Friday but is doing royal tweets from London where she is watching the wedding! It is Friday when the final seat is elected on the Trinity panel and this is won by Sean Barrett. Ivana Bacik won the second seat being elected the previous evening. My timing was good back then as I managed to be in the hall for the tenth count when Ivana is elected. A small group of her supporters and her family are there and there is a hearty round of applause in the count centre when she is “deemed elected”. The resulting noise is not as well received by a youngster in the Hall who is spooked by the clapping putting her hands to her ears. I’m reminded of this when I see the front of the Irish Times on Saturday morning!


We will wait and see if there is another Seanad election. If the Government commitment is followed, it will be up to the Irish people to decide via a referendum if the Seanad is to be modified or maybe scrapped. It may well be a case of ‘The Seanad is dead, long live the Seanad’.